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Typology and Parallels Within the Old Testament: Exodus and the Conquest of Canaan

March 7, 2014 2 comments

Continuing through James Hamilton’s God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment, I’m now reading the section on the former prophets.  Hamilton’s work brings out an interesting aspect of typology:  not merely the illustrations and pictures (types) concerning the correspondences between Old Testament persons, events, or institutions, and New Testament fulfillment.  Typology can also include correspondences between one Old Testament event and a later Old Testament event.  Herein we observe the central theme of scripture, repeated throughout the unfolding story of God’s work with the nation Israel:  God’s Glory as the ultimate purpose of His works, accomplished in Salvation through Judgment.

Considering the Old Testament “Prophets” section and its beginning chapter (Joshua), Hamilton observes several interesting parallels between the Exodus experience and the later conquest of Canaan:

1. Explicit comparison between the crossing of the Red Sea (Exodus) and the later crossing of the River Jordan (Josh. 4:23)

2. The judgment of circumcision:  Moses’ sons in Exodus 4:24-26.  Then, the conquest generation in Joshua 5; Through the judgment of circumcision, the reproach of Egypt is rolled away (Joshua 5:9).

3. Angel of the Lord appearances of God: to Moses (the burning bush); then to Joshua in Joshua 5, the meeting with the Captain of the Host of Yahweh

Just as Moses drew near and inspected the burning bush, Joshua draws near the man with the drawn sword (5:13). Just as Moses was instructed to remove his sandals because of the holy ground, so Joshua is told to remove his (5:15). These historical correspondences connect the beginnings of the triumphant exodus to the beginnings of what is hereby guaranteed to be the triumphant conquest. There might be an escalation of significance in that whereas Moses was resistant to what Yahweh commanded him to do and is not said to have worshiped, Joshua not only does not question and object, as Moses did, but he worships (5:14)

4.  Likeness to Eden

This man with the drawn sword stands to the east of the land, at its entrance, creating an intriguing connection between the land Israel is crossing over to possess, and the land from which Adam and Eve were expelled.15 The way to Eden was guarded at the east by a cherubim with a flaming sword (Gen. 3:24). Similarly, Balaam likened the camp of Israel to a garden planted by Yahweh (Num. 24:6), and as he made his way to their camp, he met the angel of Yahweh, who had a drawn sword in his hand (Num. 22:22–35). With Yahweh in their midst, Israel has recaptured something of the Edenic experience. As they cross into the land, Israel moves in the direction of the reversal of the curse.

5.  Yahweh pursues His glory: He hardened Pharaoh’s heart (Exodus) to accomplish His purpose of the Exodus.  Then He hardens the hearts of the Canaanite kings of the land, to accomplish His purpose of bringing the people into the land, the conquest.

As well summarized, God’s purpose in these great events:

The typological connections between the exodus and conquest set forth in Joshua 4:23, where the crossing of the sea is compared to the crossing of the river, and 5:13–16, where, like Moses, Joshua unshods his feet on holy ground, join with other features in the text17 to indicate that Yahweh’s goal at the conquest is the same goal He had at the exodus. There He wanted all to know that He is Yahweh. He pursued His glory—the proclamation of His name—by saving Israel through the judgment of Egypt. At the conquest, Yahweh causes the inhabitants of the land to know that He is God (2:9–11), He makes Israel know that he is among them (3:10), and He makes the peoples of the land know His might (4:24). Just as Yahweh hardened the heart of Pharaoh to accomplish His purpose at the exodus, so He hardens the hearts of the kings of the land at the conquest (11:18, 20).18 Just as Yahweh demonstrated His glory at the exodus by saving Israel through the judgment of Egypt, He demonstrates His glory at the conquest by saving Israel through the judgment of the peoples of the land.

Parallels Between Israel’s Exodus and Christ’s Second Coming

November 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Ezekiel 20:35-36 — And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will enter into judgment with you face to face. 36 As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you, declares the Lord God.

As has often been observed by Bible teachers, and I’ve noticed in my own Bible readings, the similarities between the book of Revelation end-times judgments, and the past judgment plagues on Egypt, are striking.  Both accounts involve descriptions of ruined water, famine and pestilence, locusts, and frogs, for instance.  As a biblical response to naturalist-minded believers, this parallel is a strong argument for the very supernatural power behind the future judgments.  These events will not be the result of man’s technological innovation, nuclear war fallout or any other disaster that man can inflict on this planet — any more than the plagues in Egypt were of man’s doing.  The fact that the people in Revelation 6 cry out for the rocks to fall on them and hide them from the wrath of God, from the wrath of the Lamb, ought to be obvious enough proof that the people there realize just Who is responsible for their plight:  not mankind in some global nuclear warfare.

All of the above texts show implicit similarities and parallels — we can see the similarities, but nothing explicit in the texts to link Egypt with the future.  In my recent Bible readings (in a modified Horner Bible Reading), though, I noticed a direct mention of the similarities between the two events.  I especially noticed Ezekiel 20:36 — which makes an explicit comparison between the Exodus from Egypt and the Second Coming judgment.  Where Exodus and Revelation describe actual plagues on the land and people, and the rest of the Pentateuch describes the wilderness wanderings, Ezekiel 20 tells us that Israel will face judgment, at the Second Coming, similar to that previous one.  So here we even see a parallel sequence between the two events:

Past (Exodus) Event Future (Second Coming) Event
1. Great plagues of judgment on the Egyptians Great plagues of judgment on the whole world
2. Israel removed from its land of sojourning Israel removed from its land where it was gathered in unbelief
(Daniel 9:27, 2 Thess. 2:4, Matt. 24:15-21, Rev. 11:2)
3. Israel tested and tried in the wilderness Israel regathered (ref. Matt. 24:31) and tried/judged in the wilderness
(Ezekiel 20:35-36)

It’s an interesting parallel, if I read and understand the scripture correctly.  However, I checked a few commentaries, such as the MacArthur Bible Commentary and Thomas Constable’s online commentary, and these both see verse 35 as referring to the Jewish dispersion of the present age. Yet Constable’s commentary, citing Scofield, does see verses 36 to 38 as referring to the future Great Tribulation:

“The passage is a prophecy of future judgment upon Israel, regathered from all nations . . . The issue of this judgment determines who of Israel in that day will enter kingdom blessing (Ps. 50:1-7; Ezek. 20:33-44; Mal. 3:2-5; 4:1-2).”  (The New Scofield.)

When taken as a whole, I don’t see how verse 35 is referring to the present day scattering, when the previous verse (20:34) clearly begins a section describing a gathering of the people who had been previously scattered:  I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out.  In verse 35 they have already been regathered, so the commentary notes for verse 35 in the MBC and Constable don’t make sense of the narrative sequence.  Instead, it seems that verse 34 begins with the current situation (the countries where you are scattered) and takes us into the future, when they are brought out and gathered — a yet future event.  It even could be said that all of this is future, since some biblical texts indicate a scattering of the Jews during the tribulation:  a first gathering in unbelief (begun in 1948) to allow the building of the tribulation-era temple and the seven year covenant with antiChrist, then a scattering at the mid-point of that 7 year covenant, followed by a regathering (in belief) during the Great Tribulation / Day of the Lord and preparation to enter into the Millennial Kingdom.  Such is my original understanding, as shown above, and so I still find this an interesting sequence, especially considering the parallel to the Exodus from Egypt and its sequence.

Biblical Covenants, Typology, and S. Lewis Johnson

July 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Through my study of the biblical covenants — the Abrahamic, Davidic, and New — I now increasingly notice biblical references to these covenants, with greater appreciation for our covenant-keeping God, the One who will deliver us in keeping with His word.  Understanding the great, divine purpose of God, and His faithfulness to these covenants, helps me to bear up under personal struggles, realizing again God’s wonderful sovereign grace, trusting that He will yet deliver on these wonderful promises — though for now (for a short time, this life) we have our light and momentary afflictions.

Returning to the biblical references, I note something S. Lewis Johnson has pointed out, that the term covenant appears over 300 times in the Old Testament, yet only 33 times in the New Testament — and over half of these are quotations from the Old Testament.  Yet recently I noticed one of the “covenant” references, in Ephesians 2:12 — we (Gentiles) were once excluded, foreigners to “the covenants of the promise” — an excellent New Testament reminder of the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants.

2 Samuel 7, the main passage dealing with the Davidic covenant, includes David’s wonderful praise (verses 18 – 29), in which David prays “O Lord God” — Adonai Yahweh in the Hebrew, and the same words used in Genesis, in reference to the original covenant with Abraham.

Exodus includes a few references to covenants, including an interesting one in 29:9, a promise to give the priesthood to Aaron’s descendants forever.  This one I can see as having ultimate fulfillment at the Second Coming, with the millennial temple and priestly service described in Ezekiel 40-48 and mentioned by other prophets such as Zechariah.

Exodus 31:17 is another strong covenant statement that mentions the covenant with Israel — and a statement of fact that God created  heaven and earth in six days:  “It (the sabbath) is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.”  Something so simple and straightforward, yet how many profess the name of Christ yet want to reject the very beginning of God’s word and argue that Genesis 1 is poetry.  In reading Exodus 31, it also strikes me as interesting that often the same people who scoff at the Genesis creation are the very ones who write off Israel and declare that God is finished with them.  Yet here the two ideas are inextricably linked:  the fact of God’s creation in six ordinary days, as a sign “forever” between God and “the people of Israel.”  Again, how obvious can something be and so many professed believers just don’t get it?  Israel still exists as a distinct, separate ethnic race, in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies such as Baalam’s prophecy (Numbers 23:9: behold, a people dwelling alone, and not counting itself among the nations!), and (from my recent reading) Ezekiel 20:32 (“What is in your mind shall never happen-the thought, ‘Let us be like the nations…’).  For as Psalm 89 assures us, the promise to David is sure — Like the moon it shall be established forever, a faithful witness in the skies.

Another interesting Old Testament covenant is the one between David and Jonathan, begun in 1 Samuel and fulfilled in 2 Samuel 9 with Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth.  S. Lewis Johnson again teaches good typology, pointing out the requirements of such types — historical, and with correspondences between the historical object and the New Testament equivalent.   Here, the parallels include:

  • David’s covenant purpose –> God’s eternal purposes — David as a type for God the Father
  • Jonathan (which means, “the Lord has given”) as God the Son
  • Mephibosheth — a name which means shame; one in shame, and crippled, representing us.
  • Delayed fulfillment of the covenant:  many years had gone by since David and Jonathan made the original covenant, yet just as surely as this covenant was later fulfilled, so will God’s covenant reach its fulfillment in the future
  • David’s search for those who are the object of the promises –> the Divine Initiative, that God is the one seeking us out.

From Egypt to Canaan: Insights from a Study through Exodus and Numbers

January 7, 2010 Leave a comment

I’ve been enjoying going through S. Lewis Johnson’s “From Egypt to Canaan” series (from 1985).  This series started in Exodus, and then skips over some parts while focusing on various incidents in Exodus and Numbers, all related to the theme of the people in their wilderness wanderings.  I’m now more than halfway through, up to Numbers 20, and have learned a great deal.

One thing I’ve learned from this study is how to connect the Old Testament passages with the specific New Testament texts that relate back to the passage in question.  Now this is the way to truly interpret scripture, not by going beyond the text and speculating about other possible “allegorical” meanings, yet going beyond the actual Old Testament text to include the actual New Testament applications that relate to the text:  letting scripture interpret scripture.  Frequently in this study, SLJ refers to passages such as 1 Corinthians 10 and various chapters in Hebrews, where Paul and the writer of Hebrews specifically comment on the wilderness wanderings.

Now to several specific observations from this series:
The miracles in Exodus are never again discussed as being important, later in the Bible (because the people were in unbelief)  — until Revelation, which tells of the future judgements which are very similar to the ones done to Egypt.  Here too is a great answer to those who interpret the Bible with too much of a naturalistic bent.  Just as the judgements in Exodus were supernatural events performed by God, without any human agent, so too will be the judgments described in Revelation.  God will get all the glory there too, and He will not share it with man, even to such notions as ascribing the actual cause of the end-times judgments to human nuclear war.

The giving of the law — a very interesting point is brought out in Exodus 17.  The law was proposed before it was ever imposed.  Had the people of Israel recognized that they could not keep God’s law, the actual living under the Old Covenant would not have occurred, and the time until Christ’s First Coming could very well have been much sooner.  The people willingly accepted the terms of the Old Covenant, saying “we will do it,” which only showed their true heart condition, that they did not understand their own sinful nature.

Typology
A type is really just another word for an example, or an illustration.  S. Lewis Johnson often points this out, emphasizing that typology does not include other things that some people often think of when they think of a “type.”  SLJ also gives many examples of true typology — of the illustration and what it corresponds to — throughout this study.

Typology and the two incidents where Moses struck the rock
The first incident, in Exodus 17, has Moses using the rod to strike the rock.  The rod used is the one Moses used to strike the Nile and turn its waters to blood.  The striking of the rock here illustrates Christ as “our smitten rock,” the one punished with the rod, and suffers and sheds blood.

In the later incident in Numbers 20, Moses is told to use the rod that is before the Lord (Numbers 20:9), which indicates a different rod, the one belonging to Aaron that had just blossomed and brought forth almonds in the previous chapter.  Speaking to the rock suggests our going to the Lord with our needs.  Interestingly enough, the Hebrew word for “rock” here is a different Hebrew word than in Exodus 17.  The Hebrew word for rock in Exodus 17 is a rock that is sharp.  The Hebrew word “rock” in Numbers 20 refers to elevation.  SLJ notes that often the words in Hebrew are used interchangeably, but thinks that this difference could be significant here — and further indication that the typology in Numbers 20 conveys the idea of Christ (the rock) elevated, and speaking to the rock illustrates our access to Christ, who has been exalted.

As S. Lewis Johnson observes:

If you turn back to Exodus chapter 17 and you were able to look at the Hebrew text at that point, you would find that the word for rock there is the word tswur.  That word is often associated with a sharp kind of rock, whereas the word that is used in chapter 20 of the Book of Numbers as the word cela and cela is the word that is often associated with elevation.  This distinction between these two words is not always observed.  That is the general sense of the two words and if that is true, it further supports the idea.  We not only have Moses told to speak to the rock, but we also have a different word for rock that suggests an elevated rock and of course the elevated rock would go very well with the idea of a high priest who is at the right hand of the Majesty on High.

Moses ruined the typology by striking the rock instead — an illustration that would suggest that Christ has to suffer more than once.  Yet this incident also shows God’s marvelous grace:  even when His people are disobedient, God still will bring forth the intended blessing, such as here where God still provided the people with  water.

Typology and the priesthood of Aaron
Numbers 20 also tells of Aaron’s death.  Here we see the flaw in the Aaronic priesthood — the high priest dies.  Yet Aaron as priest is an illustration, as he represents the function of the priesthood of Christ.  Melchizedek as a priest represents the person of Christ.

The Sin Unto Death
Numbers 13 and 14 tells of the tragic turning point at Kadesh Barnea, where the people refuse to go into the land.  The people finally reach a point where it is too late to repent, they must experience the judgment of 40 years in the wilderness.  It is very probable that out of the whole nation of Israel, there were more than just two saved people (Caleb and Joshua), yet they all reached a point where they experienced the final consequence of a sin that lead to their death in the wilderness.

S. Lewis Johnson here discusses the “sin unto death” spoken of by John in 1 John 5, pointing out that there is sin that leads to death, as distinguished from sin that does not lead to death.  1 Corinthians 11, and Acts 5, also describe situations where believers went too far and because of their sin they died.  As Johnson remarks, there are some Christians that are good for heaven, but not so good for earth — and so God takes them away, that they not bring further shame to God in their lives in this world.  The deaths of Moses and Aaron, as their punishment for disobedience in Numbers 17, is yet another example of the “sin unto death.”  Moses and Aaron too were forgiven of their sins, yet because of that sin they were not allowed to go into the promised land.  The daughters of Zelophehad also point out that their father did not take part in the rebellion of Korah, but died for his own sins — another example of distinction between the saved who nevertheless die because of their sins, as compared to the unsaved who died as a result of the rebellion of Korah.